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Unfortunately, if civil discourse and societal norms can’t be observed even in the public square, the entire republican (small “r”) experiment is at risk. When compromise and coalitions aren’t possible, aren’t even considered desirable, then all that remains is the quest for unbridled power.
For that matter, where nothing is considered profane anymore, the corollary is that nothing is sacred. And where nothing is sacred or sacramentalized — not even civic values held in common and universally considered to be worth defending — then civilization itself retreats.p>On Monday on The American Spectator ‘s blog, I argued one of this essay’s points in less fully considered, summary fashion: br> /p>
It really is amazing that the Left so often resorts, in print (or cyberprint), to vulgarities and profanities to make their points. My Left Wing blogger Maryscott O’Connor seems only too typical: The attitude seems to be, ‘who needs to bother with reason, with persuasion and with respectful dialogue when it’s so much easier to spew F-words?’ The number of words that had to be replaced in the Post story by the designation of ‘[expletive]’ is truly astonishing. Somebody needs to tell these Lefties that crassness isn’t an argument and it’s not a political position, it’s just a character defect.br> Cross-posted at My Left Wing, this comment drew an entirely predictable response from that blog’s readers: The very first two comments used the “F” word…. p> THE STORY COULD END THERE, but to accept that ending would be to throw in the towel. Therefore, I note this sign of hope: The Euston Manifesto , written by a host of self-proclaimed “progressives” who mostly identify themselves with “the Left,” rejects anti-Americanism, rejects common cause with terrorists or totalitarians, and contains this statement: br> /p>
We reject the notion that there are no opponents on the Left. We reject, similarly, the idea that there can be no opening to ideas and individuals to our right. Leftists who make common cause with, or excuses for, anti-democratic forces should be criticized in clear and forthright terms. Conversely, we pay attention to liberal and conservative voices and ideas if they contribute to strengthening democratic norms and practices and to the battle for human progress.br> The signers of the Euston Manifesto will always be welcome in these parts. We may rarely agree with them, but we can always try to find common cause with them in service of at least some important shared, underlying values. It’s just a shame that the Euston signatories aren’t the most active Left Wing of these blessed United States.